Mr. StarCity On Authenticity Across Mediums

Multidisciplinary Artist Mr. StarCity On Authenticity Across Mediums

Mr. StarCity sits on the main stage of his Loverboy series installation at the Art Fair Philippines 2024 exhibition hub. Photo by Kieran Punay

Mr. StarCity sits on the main stage of his Loverboy series installation at the Art Fair Philippines 2024 exhibition hub. Photo by Kieran Punay

Mr. StarCity believes in his message, so much so that it permeates every aspect of his life: his art, which spans painting, poetry, sculpture, and other mediums; the words he speaks; and the clothing he wears. 

Mr. StarCity will perform and present his Loverboy series at Art Fair Philippines 2024 from February 16 to 18. See his installation at 7F, The Link at Ayala Center, Makati City. 

In the schemes of the digital panopticon, it’s easy for a message of hope and positivity to get lost in all the noise. Anyone on the web long enough wouldn’t pay it a second glance, disillusioned by insincerity and false personas.

But not the followers of multidisciplinary artist David “Mr. StarCity” White, who fill his Instagram comment section with thanks and praises; his authenticity, it seems, is one that you can feel, even through a screen.

The multidisciplinary artist showcases his Loverboy series in the Philippines, following the release of his capsule collection in collaboration with Billionaire Boys Club and League OTO. Photo by Kieran Punay

“Being authentic is a gift to those who are present,” he explains via an email exchange with Vogue Philippines (Writing is his preferred mode of communication). “Some people will spend so much time swimming in old energy and searching for who they used to be because they don’t have enough depth to understand and accept who [they] are now. I embrace the now.” 

Star means it literally, greeting everyone he comes across with his arms outstretched, smile wide, and a full-chested “Big bless!” The phrase is his greeting and expression of choice, informed by the root of his messaging: hope, positivity, and abundance that was once rooted in lack. His messaging isn’t something for show on social media either; rather, it is at the core of who he is, permeating his work, lifestyle, words, and actions. 

An evolving practice

I first meet the artist on the Tuesday before this year’s Art Fair Philippines weekend, inside the half-built exhibition space in The Link’s car park. He held himself with effortless poise and a gravitas befitting of the name most people regard him as, Star. He was dressed in crisply tailored azure-blue coordinates, cowhide boots, and gold jewelry on jewelry—pieces that I later learned were of his own design. Personal style, just as in every other aspect of his life, functions as an extension of his art. 

“I’ve developed a passion for expressing myself through various mediums,” Star explained. “In fashion, I’ve become enamored with designing clothes, becoming my own muse. There’s something captivating about creating for yourself.” He added, laughing, “You essentially become your own coloring book, and I find joy in coloring my own pages.” 

Mr. StarCity wears his character, Loverboy, on a gold chain around his neck. Photo by Kieran Punay
Detail of Mr StarCity’s Loverboy series, painted using mixed media. Photo by Kieran Punay

In matters of style, it’s only natural that he would grow comfortable in freedom of expression. He grew up surrounded immediately immersed in artistic sensitivity, born and raised in New York City. “[It] exposed me to lots of different cultures. I met people from all over, each with their own way of living,” he recounted. “Going into different homes, from my parents’ place to my friends’ houses, I saw a mix of art, food, and fashion that made me curious to learn more. The mosaic of influences nurtured my imagination, prompting me to dig deeper into the diverse artistic expressions that surrounded me.” 

Star still remembers the moment he knew he wanted to become an artist. “One day, as I entered a [public] bathroom, I came across a negative quote scrawled on the wall about someone’s mother. It struck a chord, making me question why someone would write something hurtful,” he said. “Uncomfortable with the negativity that it invoked, I decided to counteract it by spreading positivity through my own writings.” 

He started writing on found objects strewn throughout the city—discarded wood panels, mattresses, doors, and even television sets—and transformed them into sculptures, gaining him some notoriety on the streets of New York. It would later inspire him to become a fully-fledged artist, first turning to painting to further his messages of light. “Transitioning to the canvas, I found a new avenue for self-expression,” Star said. “Once I took hold of a paintbrush, I never let go, marking the day I officially embraced the title of an artist.” 

But painting is just one aspect of his practice, which later evolved into more poetry and sculptures, then music, photography, and film. “Once I jumped into painting, my obsession with exploring fresh avenues of self-expression took flight,” he told Vogue Philippines. “I believe everything on this planet serves a purpose and can convey a message.” 

Mr. StarCity’s Loverboy series is complemented by a space awash in cobalt blue, inspired by a memory of a speakeasy bar. Photo by Kieran Punay

He continues, “Through painting, poetry, and music, I channel the creative energy from my subconscious onto a canvas, paper, or sound. Photography and film, on the other hand, let me share my unique visual perspective with the world, offering a bird’s eye view that challenges the viewer’s accustomed outlook.” 

No matter the medium, what he hopes to convey is the same. “I feel a responsibility to inspire and share love with those who may need it, even if they aren’t aware of it themselves.” Star’s creative pursuits might have begun when he reflected on a stranger’s strife relationship with their mother, but he has met the harsh realities of the ways that inner turmoil can ail a person and those around them. “Having experienced depression, lost friends to [self-harm], and grown up with a brother battling schizophrenia and PTSD from street-related issues, I am committed to advocating for mental health,” he said. “My aim is to use my energy on this earth to be a source of healing.” 

His followers worldwide might resonate with his work because it paints an honest portrait of the self, and in equal registers of beauty and torment. Star expands, “What ties together every creation I craft is that it’s a reflection of my life’s experiences, meant to be seen, felt, and appreciated.” 

A memory of a speakeasy 

Star began the series he’s most known for, Loverboy, in the throes of isolation. The poem titled “Moon Lit Roses And Heartache” came first, inspiring the creation of Loverboy the character: “a wandering saxophonist, florist, and gardener” that lives within a vibrant palette of sharp, contrasting hues and comforting pastels. This garden dreamscape is something that Loverboy “built with his beloved, but faced a dilemma when he wished to play his saxophone again, leading to the unraveling of his relationship.” 

Photo by Kieran Punay
Photo by Kieran Punay

Each line in the poem was inspired by and thus correlates with a specific painting. The artist explains, “Stepping into the Loverboy exhibition meant entering a poetic space where each painting unfolded from the lines of the poem. In all my exhibitions and painting series, the poem takes precedence, serving as the catalyst that inspires the subsequent artwork.” 

Star will premiere the Loverboy series in the Philippines at the annual Art Fair, in a space completely awash in Yves Klein blue. There is a space for a stage, upholstered in velvet, and brass fixtures inspired by saxophones. Star explains the thought behind the space: “Opting for the speakeasy immersive space was a deliberate choice, resonating with Loverboy being a saxophonist—his workplace where he shares the energy of love and music. The blue hues symbolize Loverboy’s persistent mood to overcome challenges, serving as a reminder that with genuine self-love and tenacity, one can conquer anything.” 

He worked with production designer and theater director Ed Lacson, Art Fair’s 7th-floor exhibition designer, to construct the space. He explains that while blue is a practical color—making the colors in Star’s paintings pop—it is also a meaningful one. “For me, blue is memory,” he tells Vogue Philippines. “If you think of a room that you like or a food that you like, you don’t remember the entire space, right?” 

Ed continues, “So for me, the blue helps me erase [the details] and just focus on the important part of that memory.” He suggests that the memory you might leave with from the Mr. StarCity installation is of its lone saxophonist, as well as Star himself and the lines of his recited poetry, echoing off of cobalt walls. 

Mr. StarCity will recite the poetry that inspired his Loverboy series in his installation at the Projects section of the Art Fair Philippines 2024 exhibition hub. Photo by Kieran Punay

At the root

Stringing up a neat line of connection, Star recently launched his collaboration with the Pharrell-founded streetwear brand Billionaire Boys Club (BBC), just the week before he arrived in the Philippines. In collaboration with artist collective LEAGUE OTO in celebration of Black History Month, he paints BBC’s Astronaut character using the Loverboy series’ palette—the backs of T-shirts emblazoned with the title of its poem, “Moon Lit Roses And Heartache.” 

The BBC pieces make clothing the newest addition to Star’s ever-growing roster of mediums, though he’s already grown comfortable designing and having his own clothes made by now. Still, it marks an exciting expansion to the Mr. StarCity universe. “This collaboration holds a significant meaning for me, marking both my growth as an artist and a designer,” he tells Vogue Philippines. “Stepping into the world of fashion with this legitimate collaboration is a testament to love and light, showcasing a unique blend of creativity.” 

Once again, his message is the same; he tells me that it has always stayed the same, likening a person’s life’s calling to a seed being planted. The self is the same at its root, only continuing to blossom in experience. “There is a lesson to be learnt in how plants grow towards the sun,” he narrates. “It’s inevitable that we have our moments of darkness, but perhaps true growth exists when we choose to focus on the light instead of everything that tries to pull us down. I want to be the sun for those who only see the clouds.” 

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